In line with its mission and vision, EATP hosted a Forum geared to offer a platform for open discussions on the vision of East Africa as one tourism destination and the feasibility and viability thereof. The meeting took place at Elevate Suites in Kigali on the 3rd and 4th of February 2016.
Invited to the meeting were CEOs and Executive Directors of Private Sector Tourism Associations in the five East African countries; Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Burundi was represented by Denis Nshimirimana, chairperson for Burundi Chamber for hotels and tourism, Edouard BAGUMAKO representing tour operators and Liliane Rubengebenge representing travel agencies.
For two days, EATP challenged the participants to look beyond their differences and challenges at their national levels and rally their strengths behind finding solutions to common problems. Carmen Nibigira, EATP Regional Coordinator, emphasized that solutions will have to come from all of the five partner states, with a unified vision and collaboration towards developing regional tourism. Ms. Nibigira hoped the forum gave each tourism stakeholder an opportunity to borrow a leaf from each other in their efforts to develop tourism in East Africa.
The private sector is half of the solution in the equation; the other half is government led initiatives. Creating an enabling environment for tourism business is the mandate of the government through its agencies such as the tourism boards and hence, this forum was a much needed platform to understand their position and the private sector to voice their concerns. EATP supported by its partners in the private and public sector is therefore seeking strategic engagement with direct and concrete actions from both parties in driving inter and intra- regional tourism.
EATP called on all participants to see inter and intra-regional tourism as something to be embraced for the good of EAC.
Tanzania and Burundi, even though they haven’t joined the single tourist visa, were invited to attend all regional meetings organized whether through Northern Corridor as observers as well as East Africa Business Council and East Africa Community.